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FDA OVERTURNS 30-YEAR BAN ON BLOOD DONATIONS BY GAY MEN

FDA OVERTURNS 30-YEAR BAN ON BLOOD DONATIONS BY GAY MEN

 By Toni Clarke for Reuters

The United States government on Monday overturned its 30-year ban on blood donations by gay men, saying they can now donate 12 months after their last sexual contact with another man.

The Food and Drug Administration said its decision to reverse the policy was based on an examination of the latest science which shows that an indefinite ban is not necessary to prevent transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

"Ultimately, the 12-month deferral window is supported by the best available scientific evidence, at this point in time, relevant to the U.S. population," Dr. Peter Marks, deputy director of the FDA's biologics division, said in a statement.

The move brings the United States in line with countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand which also have 12-month deferrment periods.

Gay rights advocates said the updated policy reamins discriminatory.

"It is ridiculous and counter to the public health that a married gay man in a monogamous relationship can't give blood, but a promiscuous straight man who has had hundreds of opposite sex partners in the last year can," said Jared Polis, a Democratic congressman and co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, a caucus of openly gay members of Congress.

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